Death of John David Hopper, former President of IBTS

Death of John David Hopper, former President of IBTS

EBF News Service - January 13, 2015

John David Hopper, President of IBTS in Rüschlikon and Prague from 1988-96 has died at the age of 80 at his home in San Antonio, Texas. The following tribute to Dr. Hopper has been issued by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship USA:

John David Hopper, who was commissioned in 1992 as one of the first Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel, has died at the age of 80.

Hopper is known widely for his work with the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Rϋschlikon, Switzerland, where he taught from 1965-1970 and served as president from 1988-1995. Hopper and his wife, JoAnn, spent 32 years as missionaries—predominantly in Eastern Europe. Their service with CBF began in 1992 when the couple announced their resignation as missionaries from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Foreign Mission Board.

John David and JoAnn worked throughout their missionary career to be representatives for Baptists throughout Europe, building churches, sharing the Gospel and enabling partnerships with churches behind the Iron Curtain of Eastern Europe.

After retiring from the mission field in 1999, Hopper and his wife relocated to San Antonio, where they could be close to a supportive church home as Hopper struggled with medical conditions.

Hopper was a lover of life, music, languages and people—enriching the lives of those around him.

Those who knew Hopper speak highly of his intelligence, humility and service. Jim Smith, CBF director of field ministries described Hopper as “‘user-friendly’ intellectual who enjoyed conversations with every level individual.”

“John David read extensively and remembered it all. He could interpret multiple cultures and personalities with ease,” Smith said. “His travels throughout Eastern and Central Europe during the Soviet Era could have served as a Hollywood adventure script, yet in many ways he was a low-key person. He didn’t play up his role in many situations despite his obvious leadership in many challenging situations and settings. He taught me to prepare in the slow times to be productive in the pressured times.”

Dr. Earl Martin, former CBF field personnel and Rüschlikon colleague says, “John David Hopper was a valiant servant of the Lord. His linguistic gift enabled him to reach out to people of many cultures. His love for people in the name of Christ was not simply generic, but specific. He loved the person or persons face-to-face.”

Hopper’s ability to overcome health issues and challenges until his death was a precious gift for his wife, children and grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by many, but remembered for his great works.

A memorial service will be held for Dr. Hopper on Tuesday, February 3 at 11:00 a.m. CST at Trinity Baptist Church, 319 East Mulberry Avenue, San Antonio, Texas 78212.

Stuart Blythe, the current Rector of IBTSC has also paid tribute to Dr. Hopper: “We are sorry to hear of the death of John David Hopper. He was president of Rüschlikon while I was a student. In turn he made a significant contribution to IBTS Prague and continued to be supporter. We at IBTSC send our prayers and thoughts to JoAnn and his family.”

Tony Peck, EBF General Secretary comments: “John David led IBTS through some exceptionally tough times. I got to know him a bit when I was at Rüschlikon on sabbatical in 1992. He was a gracious and deeply spiritual man. On behalf of the EBF we give thanks for his commitment to European Baptists and our thoughts and prayers are with JoAnn and the family.”

Photos by CBF:
JoAnn and John David Hopper. Baptist Standard Photo.
John David and JoAnn Hopper at the 1992 CBF General Assembly.